Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia and Samoa

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Subject: Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia and Samoa
From: "Dion Hobcroft" <>
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 16:25:39 +1000
Some quick notes from a recent birding trip to the SW Pacific of 28 days. If
you are going to any of these destinations let me know.

Manus Island: five endemics-heard the boobook only, did not try for the
fantail due to lack of time. Had an excellent view of a Superb Pitta that
may in fact be the world's rarest pitta (after the great news of a
population discovery of Gurney's in Burma). The Admiralty Pied Monarch also
seems very rare finding only a single bird during our stay. Other good birds
included Meek's Pygmy Parrot and Claret-breasted Fruit-dove.

New Britain: A pelagic to Kimbe Island revealed 40 Nicobar Pigeons. Lowland
forest fragments around Hoskins held many interesting birds including
Melanesian Scrubfowl, Bar-tailed Imperial Pigeon, Black-headed Paradise
Kingfisher, Violaceous Coucal. The sheer biomass of Eclectus Parrots,
Red-knobbed Imperial Pigeons, Red-knobbed Fruit-Dove, Eastern Black-capped
Lory and Blue-eyed Cockatoo was very impressive.

New Ireland: Kavieng was very pleasant and recommend the Friday night dinner
at the local hotel. Birded a swampforest 25 km S and found perched Green
Pygmy Parrot and stunning race of Golden Monarch. Birded some lower
mountains-no luck with the montane endemics but some great birding with
flocks of Red-chinned Lorikeets, small parties of the rare and localised
White-backed Woodswallow and Song Parrot, the striking Paradise Drongo,
Bismarck Pied Monarch, the rare Yellow-legged Pigeon plus much more.

Vanuatu: Birded Santo and picked up the 5 lowland endemics notably Vanuatu
Scrubfowl, Tanna Fruit-dove, Chestnut-bellied Kingfisher, Buff-bellied
Monarch and Yellow-fronted White-eye. Recommend Loru Protected Area for the
megapode that is a striking bird-glossy coal black with yellow legs and a
red head. The chief has set aside a large area of land to protect the
forest, birds and coconut crab. The kingfisher is quite elusive as a shy
forest species best found by call.

New Caledonia: Riviere Bleue-the key Kagu site is closed to the public and
permission to visit only available by writing well in advance, crossing
certain bridges on foot only. The Kagu is possible to see once you can
access the humid forest, we found two. We were also lucky to be shown a
nesting Crow Honeyeater-the first nest discovered by park ornithologist Yves
Letocart. Very enjoyable birding in NC.

Fiji: always good birding here. Taveuni: Orange Dove, Silktail and Giant
Forest Honeyeater with a very lucky break finding a perched Friendly Ground
Dove and getting it in the scope. Viti Levu: Golden Dove, Sulphur-breasted
Shining Parrot and numerous Giant Forest Honeyeaters in some quality forest
one hour drive from Suva with a Black-faced Shrikebill in remnant forest at
Nausori Highlands near Nadi. Kadavu: four endemics (Whistling Dove, Kadavu
Fantail, Kadavu Honeyeater, Red Shining Parrot) found  reasonably quickly on
our first morning.

Samoa: A superb location and although we missed the Tooth-billed Pigeon it
was great birding. Undoubtedly the highlight was hearing and glimpsing a
pair of suspect black forest rails on the summit trail of Mount Sili
Sili-almost certainly the lost Samoan Moorhen (see Birdlife International
website). In the same area had great views of Samoan Parrotfinch, Samoan
White-eye, trees loaded with Many-coloured Fruit-Dove and Blue-crowned
Lories, a rare Mao. The ferry trip between the islands provided several
Red-footed Boobies and a Long-tailed Jaeger plus a small pod of Spinner
Dolphins, several tropical terns including White Tern, White-tailed
Tropicbird and several other more typical species.

All of these locations are close to Australia and offer excellent birding


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